The national thrust for production should see Zimbabwe with a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025 following the launch of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy by President Mnangagwa yesterday.
The strategy will be underpinned by growing the economy, ensuring Zimbabwe grows its own food and ensuring that a vast swathe of rural families moves from poverty to growing affluence.
Launching the strategy yesterday during the 8th Annual Agri-business Conference at the Exhibition Park in Harare, President Mnangagwa said the Government’s economic policies were aimed at industrialisation, modernisation and creating a sustainable investment environment in society.
The agribusiness conference was attended by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga; Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka; Foreign Affirs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo; Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province Oliver Chidau; and representatives from the agriculture sector, among others.
Agricultural production and productivity challenges being faced by the sector, their possible solutions, and the degree of preparedness for the coming rainy season were some of the issues discussed yesterday.
The composite plan of action was drawn from the Agriculture Recovery and Livestock Growth plans initiated during the tenure of the late national hero and Agriculture Minister, Perrance Shiri.
It outlines specific key projects that include provision of inputs to both vulnerable and smallholder farmers, fostering market links, climate-proofing all agriculture support programmes, implementation of market-based programmes which bring in the private sector and improve competitiveness of agriculture commodities on local and export markets.
The launch of the agriculture strategy comes soon after the launch of the US$5 billion National Tourism Strategy in Victoria Falls and the earlier launch of the US$12 billion mining industry strategy, all of which will see Zimbabwe attaining a total US$25 billion economy in the three sectors by 2025 as the Government presses ahead with programmes designed to boost production, jobs and incomes in sustainable and permanent ways.
The Agriculture and Food Systems Strategy complements the tourism and mining strategies and is an integral part of the national development agenda being driven by President Mnangagwa.
Yesterday, the President said his administration was committed to ending hunger and poverty in line with the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2014 African Union Malabo Declaration.
The launch of the agriculture strategy fulfils Zimbabwe’s domestication of global goals to meet the right to food and nutrition in the country.
“This ambitious and yet achievable economic projection enjoins all of us across the economic and social spectrum to be more productive and work with greater synergies and collaboration. This action-oriented strategy provides the compass to the agriculture sector to fully exploit the inherent and God-given natural resources of land and water as well as our hardworking human capital,” said President Mnangagwa.
The strategy has seen the interventions such as the rebranded Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Support Programme that has seen the introduction of the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme, to ensure that farmers show commitment by accepting training and then use the new skills to ensure that best use is made of the inputs.
Government has also transformed Agribank into a land bank, which will provide a comprehensive financial and technical services to farmers and supporting projects aimed at promoting value chains in both private and community-based agriculture.
President Mnangagwa said development and rehabilitation of irrigation was critical towards the success of the strategy.
Vice President Chiwenga said the strategy was expected to move the country towards attainment of Vision 2030 of an Upper Middle Income society and was an integral component of the policies for national growth.
“The agriculture transformation will take the value chain approach and transform the sector by increasing effectiveness and efficiency of available resources,” said VP Chiwenga.
Agribusiness was a strategic platform for the Ministry of Agriculture and stakeholders to deliberate on the challenges affecting the sector which include funding, new pests and diseases, and climate change, among others.
Minister Masuka said the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy was anchored on four pillars: enabling agriculture policy and the regulatory environment to facilitate the flow of investment into the sector; appropriate agriculture investments for productivity, food security and resilience; efficient agricultural knowledge, technology and innovation system; and the agriculture sector coordination for responsive planning, implementation monitoring and evaluation.
Public, private and development partners’ investment in specific agriculture recovery and livestock growth projects and programmes was the key to the success of the strategy.
Agriculture provides the living for the largest groups of Zimbabweans, as well as the food required by everyone and the raw materials for industry. The strategies now in place are designed not just to expand production, but also to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of farming families can all benefit, so long as they take their farming occupation seriously.